Ham officials from Ohio, Kentucky visit county group

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2003

How did you do it? That seemed to be the question on the minds of Ohio and Kentucky officials with the Amateur Radio Relay League, an organization closely allied with the

Amateur Radio Emergency Services/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (ARES/RACES).

They met Monday with the Lawrence County ham operators to hear more about their new AMPA program - a volunteer effort to help local law enforcement locate missing people, particularly abducted children. AMPA stands for Amateur Radio Emergency Services Missing Persons Alert.

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Last month, the ham operators staged a mock abduction in cooperation with the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, Civil Air Patrol and other local agencies. The mock abduction was considered a success and has drawn praise from Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton for the number of volunteers who took part, donating their own time and equipment.

"We're hoping to honor them for this, but also to see if this plan will serve as a model for the rest of Ohio and throughout the nation," said Joseph Phillips, ARRL Ohio section manager. "A lot of people are volunteers, but when you have the confidence of the police, the mayors and other local officials and can work effectively with them, that's the big differences, the holy grail, so to speak. And this group has proven it works."

ARRL leaders handed out certificates of merit to the Lawrence County organization, and to member Ken Massie, who developed the idea for AMPA.

The Lawrence County organization recognized members from neighboring areas who took part in the abduction and have agreed to provide assistance to the Lawrence County AMPA effort.

Local ham operators also recognized the child who agreed to take part in the abduction. Sarah Herrell, of Ironton, was "taken" by her father, Dan Herrell. in the staged kidnapping at the Wal-Mart parking lot in Burlington. Both her father and mother are members of the ARES/RACES group.